Johanna Pagan-Alomar, a New York City mother who lost an eye during a confrontation with a police officer in the Bronx, has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department for damages.
Officer Theresa Lustica, who was cleared of wrongdoing after an internal investigation, reportedly struck Pagan-Alomar repeatedly in the face while holding a key in her fist. The confrontation occurred on June 7, 2018.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Johanna Pagan-Alomar Hired a Personal Injury Law Firm to Handle the Lawsuit Against the NYPD
Johanna Pagan-Aloma hired a personal injury law firm in the Bronx for her civil case against the New York City Police Department.
The attorney handling her lawsuit is Michael Braverman of Getz & Braverman, P.C.
The lawsuit does not yet appear to have been entered into the public online database of the New York State Unified Court System. We have reached out to the law firm about obtaining details of the lawsuit, such as requested damages, and documents. Check back for updates.
2. Report: Pagan-Alomar Approached the Officers to Ask Why Her Friend Was Being Arrested & Was Accused of Pushing One of the Cops Forward
The confrontation between Johanna Pagan-Alomar and Officer Theresa Lustica happened on June 7, 2018, in the Bronx near East Burnside Avenue and Jerome Avenue. Officer Konti Markvukaj was also present at the scene.
According to the criminal complaint, cited by the New York Daily News, Pagan-Alomar approached the officers to ask why they were arresting her friend. They said he had heroin in his possession. Pagan-Alomar told the newspaper that Officer Lustica cursed at her as she responded to the question.
Pagan-Alomar followed Officer Lustica as she moved to put the man in the patrol car. The Daily News obtained partial video of the encounter, which you can see here. Pagan-Alomar appears to reach toward Officer Lustica, but in the video, it is unclear whether she touched the officer because the women move out of the frame. But according to the complaint, Officer Lustica said Pagan-Alomar pushed her and knocked her off-balance.
3. Pagan-Alomar Says Officer Lustica Punched Her in the Face Multiple Times While Holding a Key Between her Fingers
Johanna Pagan-Alomar says that Officer Lustica pushed her to the ground and punched her multiple times in the face. She says the officer was holding a key between her fingers, which was allegedly what caused the severe damage to Pagan-Alomar’s left eye. Officer Doctors removed the eye three months later.
Pagan-Alomar says Officer Markvukaj did not intervene and that the violence only ceased when a third officer approached and told Officer Lustica to get off of her. Pagan-Alomar was placed under arrest. She says the officers took her back to the precinct and only later was she taken to a hospital for treatment.
Pagan-Alomar told the Daily News that Officer Lustica apologized after placing her under arrest, reportedly saying, “Forgive me. I didn’t want to do this to you.” Pagan-Alomar says while at the hospital, police had her sign a form that voided her complaint against the officers, but says she was on painkillers at the time and does not actually recall signing the form or realizing what it was.
4. Johanna Pagan-Alomar Faces Three Misdemeanor Charges; an Additional Felony Count Was Dismissed
Johanna Pagan-Alomar faces three charges in Bronx Criminal Court, according to online records with the New York State Unified Court System. The misdemeanor charges include:
• Assault With Intent to Cause Physical Injury
• Obstructing Government Administration- 2nd Degree
• Harassment – 2nd Degree
According to the New York penal code, “A person is guilty of obstructing governmental administration when he intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference, or by means of any independently unlawful act, or by means of interfering, whether or not physical force is involved.”
A felony charge of Assault against a police officer was dismissed, according to court records. Pagan-Alomar is due back in court on April 1.
An online search of records does not bring up any prior arrests or charges against Pagan-Alomar. A search of a federal database also does not bring up any past criminal cases.
5. The Legal Aid Society is Calling on the District Attorney to Drop the Charges Against Pagan-Alomar & For the Officers to Face Consequences
The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Johanna Pagan-Alomar in the criminal case, has called for the Bronx district attorney to drop the charges. The organization is also demanding for Officers Lustica and Markvukaj to face consequences.
Pagan-Alomar’s attorney, Nicolas Schumann-Ortega told the Bronx Times that he feels Officer Lustica should be fired from the NYPD and face charges for beating his client. He told the paper, “It is shameful that the Bronx District Attorney continues to drag this case on, and that Officer Lustica continues to walk the beat endangering the people of this community she supposedly serves.”
As referenced above, the NYPD conducted an internal review and ruled that Officer Lustica should not face repercussions.